Arsenal v Man Utd
Arsenal meet Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s late afternoon kick-off in the Barclays Premier League. After an insipid start for both illustrious clubs, this fixture is a far cry from their top-of-the-table encounters of years gone by, and both sides will be anxious for the win that could get their season back on track.
After seemingly having turned things around with three successive wins at the back end of October, things fell apart for the Gunners in a nightmarish last half hour in their Champions League game with Anderlecht, relinquishing a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3. That result should not cost them their place in the next phase, but the knock on effect was a lack of belief after taking the lead at Swansea last time out, when they again failed to hang on to a late lead, conceding two goals in the last fifteen minutes to go down 2-1. Arsene Wenger will want to tighten things up at the back, where the absence of Laurent Koscielny is proving crucial, but he will gain some comfort from the news that French striker Olivier Giroud is available again a month ahead of schedule after the broken leg he suffered against Everton in August. Giroud may well start on the bench, but with Theo Walcott also back in the fold, and Mikel Arteta also back in contention, things are at least looking better for Wenger;s attacking options.
United woes seem to be multiplying by the minute, with Louis van Gaal being told today that his recent Dutch signing, Daley Blind could be out for the remainder of the season after the knee injury he picked up playing for the Netherlands. With Argentinian defender, Marcos Rojo already out with a dislocated shoulder, Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw both picking up injuries on Tuesday international duty, and David De Gea dislocating a finger training with Spain, van Gaal could be forgiven for thinking the footballing gods are against him. Their 1-0 win at home to Crystal Palace last time out was their first win in four games, and they are already 13 points behind league leaders, Chelsea. Much will rely on the form of Wayne Rooney, fresh from his England goals and his 100th cap, while Robin van Persie will be keen to start producing the good against his old club after an indifferent season so far. With Radamel Falcao another attacking option, this could be a cracking game, despite United’s injury troubles. Check out our tipsters who will almost certainly have a tip for this game